Friday, October 28, 2011

Reaping in Joy

"Linger, loiter, procrastinate, delay, wait, dawdle... hang around." 

These are some of the synonyms one will find when they crack a thesaurus for the word "tarry." In Psalm 30:5 the writer speaks of anger and sadness. Anger in the opening words of the verse and sadness in the second half, 
  • "For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."  

The contrast in the poetry is a work of art and clearly the metaphor is apt in its description of the human heart. Yet one wonders, if God's favor is for a lifetime then what do we make of prolonged weeping that is tarrying for the night? How must one interpret the goodness of God in such times? 

Nights are not forever:
We may shake our fists at God in anger if our night is lasting longer than originally anticipated. We may even question his goodness, shout at the ceiling or beat our heads against the wall - (consequently I have done all three). However, nights are not forever and this little fact has been cemented into my cold-as-steel intellect which shrouds my heart at times. It was Spurgeon who said, "When the Sun of righteousness comes, we wipe our eyes, and joy chases our intruding sorrow."  

Nights have different origins:
A brief reading of Numbers 11-13 or Psalm 51 or any other number of Biblical stories will reveal that sometimes our nights originate as a result of sin or our response, attitudinally, to different circumstances. By way of contrast, they may well be cropping up from something we DO NOT choose. Take for example the great apostle Paul who prayed three times that the Lord would remove a thorn (some unknown affliction) from him but it was not granted. 
God's grace OBLITERATES our nights:
Recently, as my children and wife were sleeping, I was sitting on a balcony in the early morning looking over a small bay in the Pacific Ocean. Eleven months ago we began to tarry for what felt like a long night. But thanks be to God, as the Psalmist says, "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of Joy" 126:5. Throughout our struggle we were literally overwhelmed by the love of family, friends, church, community, and many others we did not even know. The morning has dawned time and again for us and we are filled with Joy. There is not space here to accommodate all that many of you reading this have done for us. Which is to say all that God has done for us. 


There are still many who linger, loiter, hang around and in general just slide the lever of joy on the driveshaft up to the "park" position. This may be you and I know for certain that it has been me even since beginning of August. Our sin has caused grief, shame, and a number of other emotions that Satan is content to have dwell in us. However, the virtue that I extol is that of God's abundant love toward us in Christ Jesus. Paul says in Philippians 3:12 "Not that I have already obtained this or am already made perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own." 

Did you catch that last part - Christ Jesus has made you His own? None of us has arrived, much less are we Fully Perfected, but Christ has made us His Own. There is great security and comfort in this fact alone; should my vision of Jesus wane my nights will tarry on. Should my vision of Christ increase, so will my awareness of his mercies over and against "my night." A little thing I like to call the "Covenant of Day" is helpful here. The writer of Lamentations describes it this way, "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." 

Each morning there is reason enough to proclaim the favor, mercies and steadfast love of God. Would that our heart of hearts derive satisfaction in this.